Lung transplant could buy Hull dad Alan Wheeldon more years with his family
FRIENDS of a man with incurable lung disease have rallied round to give him a fantastic family Christmas.
Alan Wheeldon was handed more than £500 by his workmates at a joinery firm and a Christmas hamper from an anonymous well-wisher to help him enjoy the festive season.
Alan, 47, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) just weeks before he married his wife Joanna.
The Bransholme father-of-three said: "On my last day before Christmas, everyone at work had a collection for me.
Boiler Service only £35
Fire Service only £40
Also Boiler and Fire Service £65 Saving £30 from full prices
Lines open today
Please quote HDM on the phone
Gas Safe Registration number: 506483
Terms: back boilers not included
Contact: 01482 423356
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"I usually do overtime during Christmas but I couldn't because of my IPF.
"I had also just paid for a wedding, so they must have known we were going to struggle.
"I couldn't believe it when they gave it to me. I was really shocked.
"I was lost for words and I nearly cried.
"We also had a luxury John Lewis hamper delivered to us but, because it was anonymous, I can't thank whoever it was.
"Everyone has been incredibly kind."
Alan works at Howdens Joinery but has had to cut back his hours after being diagnosed with the condition.
The diagnosis is terminal but a lung transplant could buy Alan more years with his wife and children – Courtney, 14, Alan, 12, and Ellie, 11.
Joanna says she is still coming to terms with what the future could hold for the man she loves.
Joanna, 36, said: "It is horrible. It is finally starting to sink in and it is not great at all.
"But you have to be strong for the children and not get down in the dumps – it is no good getting upset all the time.
"You have to pick yourself up and be strong and have some laughs and chuckles to create some happy memories."
Next year will be an important one for Alan. He will undergo a series of tests and hopes to visit Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, which provides specialist care for heart and lung conditions.
He is also planning to complete some of the activities on a "bucket list" of things to do with his family before he gets too ill.
He said: "Next year will be a series of different tests and then, hopefully, getting to Newcastle.
"I am not sure but, from what I can gather, they call you up for about a week and do lots of different tests on you.
"Then they will know if you are healthy enough and strong enough to take a transplant."
The year will also be spent making plans with his family so they can create some happy memories together.
Suggestions of things to do range from a balloon ride to more outrageous requests like racing around the Top Gear track.
Alan said: "The next stage for me is to just get on with enjoying life and get in some holidays and time away with the kids.
"We have never really been away much so we want to get away with them.
"I know I won't be able to do some of the things that are on my bucket list but I would like to do the hot air balloon ride.
"It is all about doing more as a family."
Joanna and Alan are urging Mail readers to sign an e-petition, calling for better services for people suffering from IPF.
The petition to the Department of Health says: "We want the Government to ensure that all patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are assessed for the lung transplant within the first year after diagnosis.
"Too many patients are dying waiting for a transplant."
The petition was started by Malcolm Weallans, a member of the Facebook group Pulmonary Fibrosis UK.
The issue will not be debated in Parliament until 100,000 signatures are gathered.
Visit http://epetitions.direct.gov. uk/petitions/39490 to sign the petition.